By Michelle Graff
Dubai, United Arab Emirates--The Kimberley Process’ Civil Society Coalition will not be attending the upcoming plenary meeting, despite the United Arab Emirates’ recent overtures and media reports to the contrary.

The KP’s Civil Society Coalition, which is made up of 11 organizations, announced in November 2015 that it wouldn’t be attending any KP meetings held in Dubai this year to underscore its objections to the UAE’s election as chair, effectively boycotting the process for 2016.

Chief among the coalition’s concerns about a UAE chairmanship were the number of companies there that allegedly engage in transfer pricing. Transfer pricing is the practice of undervaluing a resource, such as diamonds from Africa, in order to increase profitability and decrease tax liability.

It is a practice, the CSC has said, that robs local governments of the true value of their resources.

On Oct. 13, Ahmed Bin Sulayem, who represents the UAE in the KP, sent a letter and a 31-page proposal inviting the coalition to attend the plenary and outlining what the UAE has done over the past nine months to allay the coalition’s concerns.

In regards to transfer pricing specifically, the letter states that the UAE has initiated a series of workshops on developing a system for rough diamond valuation that could be applied in all diamond-importing centers.

Addressing another one of the coalition’s concerns--that the UAE is too lax in letting diamonds from conflict-ridden areas of the world, like the Central African Republic, cross its borders--the letter pointed out that four areas of the Central African Republic have been deemed KP compliant and allowed to resume rough diamond exports since it took over as KP chair.

The letter also noted that the issues of establishing a permanent secretariat for the KP under the mandate of the United Nations and lab-grown diamonds would be discussed at the plenary.

Despite the UAE’s invitation, the coalition said it is sticking by its boycott, with the latest media kerfuffle certainly not helping to change its collective mind.

On Sunday, an article appeared in The National, a government-owned English-language newspaper published in the UAE, stating that the National Support Centre for Development and Popular Participation, which is better known by its French acronym, CENADEP, had become the first member of the coalition to “break ranks” with the boycott and opt to attend the plenary.

The article quoted CENADEP’s Albert Kabuya Muyeba as saying that the organization, “accepts the invitation of the KP chair (to) the plenary in November 2016 and believes that the best way to lend credibility to the KP is by re-enlisting within the KP family to address different challenges inside, and not outside.”

On Monday, CENADEP Executive Director Danny Singoma issued a clarification on the article, which it said it was “stunned to discover.”

“While some progress has been made under the United Arab Emirates’ chairmanship, CENADEP still stands with the Civil Society Coalition and supports the boycott launched in November 2015.

“If one of our CENADEP officers has indeed responded to a letter sent by the chairman of the Kimberley Process and confirmed that they would attend the plenary session in Dubai, they have done so on personal terms. Their response does not commit our organization in any way.”

When asked about Singoma’s letter, a spokesperson for the KP chair said, “This is a matter for the parties involved.”

The spokesperson added that the UAE remains committed to improving the working conditions and the social environment related to the diamond industry, and that the invitation for the coalition to attend the plenary stands.

This is not the first time the United Arab Emirates has been tied to an inaccurate report that has appeared in The National.

Back in March, before the KP had green-lit any exports from the Central African Republic, The National published a story stating that diamond exports from all of the Central African Republic would resume soon.

JCK’s Rob Bates pointed out the inaccuracy of the article--which, like the recent article on CENADEP, was widely re-reported without verification--in a post on his Cutting Remarks blog.

The KP plenary is scheduled to take place in Dubai from Sunday, Nov. 13 to Thursday, Nov. 17.

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